Victorian Government partners with China for water management knowledge sharing


China is looking to Australian water management and urban design to help build ‘sponge cities’ – urban centres designed to reduce flooding, improve water quality and reuse stormwater and wastewater.

The Chinese Sponge City Initiative, launched in 2015, invests in projects that focus on absorbing floodwater. Currently, spongy designs are being explored in 30 cities, including Shanghai, Wuhan, and Xiamen. The current aim of the initiative is that, by 2020, 80 percent of urban areas in China will re-use at least 70 percent of their rainwater.

The 30 cities included in the initiative have received more than $12 billion in funding for sponge projects. However, the federal government only provides between 15 and 20 percent of this funding, with the rest coming from local governments and private investors. The Victorian Government has partnered with China’s Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces to share knowledge on water management practices for more livable cities. Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville travelled to China recently to visit the Victoria-Jiangsu Innovation Park, which is part of a $8.5 million investment by the Kunshan City Government. The innovation hub will feature a centre to promote water management businesses, including landscape architects, environmental engineers and water treatment technology companies, many of which are from Victoria. Neville said the aim is to strengthen China’s resilience to water security issues in the future, but also to promote the expertise of the state’s businesses internationally. “We’re promoting Victoria’s water management expertise, services and urban design to support jobs and grow the Victorian economy,” she said. “It’s important to share Victoria’s best-practice policy and innovation with our global neighbours, to enhance quality and sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region.” The Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities is also working with China to better support them to recycle water, save polluted and dry rivers and waterways, and address climate change challenges, population growth and potable water access.

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